Haley to Trump: ‘Bless your heart’ as Twitter fight flares

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley with her Twitter account, in better days.

So 2019 is off to a stellar start — 800,000 federal employees out of work, the stock market on a roller coaster and Nikki Haley lost her Twitter.

Oh, the humanity.

On New Year’s Day, Haley announced her misfortune in one final tweet — blaming onerous, Obama-era State Department rules.

A draconian policy cost her the social media account she’s had since 2009, more than a year before she became South Carolina’s governor, along with 1.7 million followers she’d accumulated.

“I have had to clear my personal Twitter account that I have had for years,” she wrote. “The followers, the history, the pictures, all other content.”

Of course, social media was outraged by the injustice: “Yesterday, Ambassador Nikki Haley had 1,700,000 followers, earned over a decade; today, she suddenly had 0.”

Yeah, she retweeted that one before signing off.

Naturally, some people see conspiracy in the ether. They say Haley is clearing the decks of potential ethics problems ahead of 2020, in case there’s an opening at the White House.

But perhaps Haley’s just doing what she does best: staying in the spotlight. Either way, she should’ve known better than to make a big deal out of this.

A former United Nations ambassador should recognize this is the very definition of a first-world problem.

Fine print

Some will consider this bureaucratic lunacy run amok, while others think it’s just silly.

Truth is, it’s all political. Haley blamed her plight on “State Dept. rules that were changed by the outgoing administration.”

Outgoing? That suggests the policy was a bit of last-minute sabotage directed at the Trump administration. And the power of persuasion worked wonders.

Within hours, other tweeters were claiming the rules were changed by the Obama administration "in its final months.”

Not quite. The rule was amended in 2013, mere months into President Obama’s second term.

The former State Department official who wrote the policy said the change was a response to suspicions that political appointees — mainly ambassadors — were using government resources to beef up their social media numbers so they could take their followers with them.

Which is kind of profiting off the government. Something that, by the way, is apparently A-OK these days.

Graham Lampa, the former State Department employee, said (on Twitter, of course) that Haley should've created a new account as U.N. ambassador instead of using her personal account. So it’s kind of her fault.

He also suggests abandoning the account was a way to sidestep potential comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s email problems. That, he says, is the best evidence yet that Haley is considering a presidential run as soon as 2020.

It may not be the best evidence, but it’s certainly another clue to the worst-kept secret in South Carolina.

Be prepared

In the end, this is all a tad melodramatic.

Haley didn’t really lose a decade’s worth of tweets — including that one where she told candidate Donald Trump “bless your heart.”

Which is admittedly priceless.

No, Haley simply renamed that account @AmbNikkiHaley and it's now archived on Twitter. Whatever that means.

The drama did distract from Haley's recent praise for Brazil’s new president, a man with a history of vile homophobic and racist statements, who targeted his country’s LGBT community on his first day in office.

Guess two years with the White House taught her the art of the deflection.

Honestly, there’s no telling whether Haley is simply trying to get on the right side of ethics laws or is preparing to jump into the 2020 presidential ring — either as vice president, or at the top of the ticket.

She's smart to be prepared, because you never know when the Trump train will fly off the tracks. With trash piling up on the National Mall and inside our wonderful national parks, this country is starting to look a little too much like the alternate universe in "Back to the Future II."

You know, that movie where a dimwitted casino mogul has taken over the world.

And anyone worried about Haley need only check out her new Twitter account. In just four days, she recouped more than 300,000 of her followers. Not bad for a holiday week.

Before long, she will have more than her previous 1.7 million followers. Because these days Haley looks like one of the more mature Republicans well-positioned for a future presidential campaign.

First-world problems and all.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.